Eagle of the Night (1928)

Article 4160 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 2-18-2013
Directed by James P. Fulton
Featuring Frank Clarke, Shirley Palmer, Earl Metcalfe
Country: USA
What it is: Serial thrills

A new invention that muffles the sounds of airplanes is the target of a gang of smugglers. Can the U.S. Government test pilot defeat their plans?

Nearly half of this ten-episode serial is missing; the first halves of episode three, five, six and ten are gone, as well as episodes seven, eight and nine in their entirety. Still, it doesn’t seem as if any major plot points are missing, but that’s also because the serial is one of those that seems to be written with the “bare-bones serial writing approach” I’ve encountered before; set up the premise in episode one, resolve it in the final episode, and fill the rest with incidental action. The fantastic content is also disappointing; the airplane silencer is pretty much a Gizmo Maguffin of the first order, and the fact that it is used a couple of times during the surviving footage doesn’t really change the fact its use not only has no impact on the plot, but that there’s something very disappointing about this particular fantastic content, as it is a pretty unsatisfying one from a dramatic standpoint for a silent serial; what’s the fun of not being able to hear the airplane with the silencer when you can’t hear them without it either? So the appeal of this serial is a combination of the airplane stunt work, which is pretty good (even if the most striking one in which an airplane lands on and takes off of a moving train is more a trick of editing than anything else), and the fact that the villains are pretty brutish in this one; you’ll be really glad that the heroine is as feisty as she is, because these guys are creeps. This is one of the lesser serials I’ve seen.

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